Mayor and Councillors’ Media Engagement Policy

Mayor and Councillors’ Media Engagement Policy
Document No:  CPL60.7
Approval Date:  20 October 2015 
Approved By: Council 
Review Date:  20 October 2017
Responsible Officer:  General Manager Strategy & Performance Version No: 00
Authorising Officer: Chief Executive Officer 

1. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to stipulate the management and allocation process for the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors as they represent the City of Greater Geelong in media engagement activities such as:

  • photo, video and other organised media opportunities

  • attendance at events and launches; and

  • contribution to internal and external publications (including proactive media releases, and reactive media responses/statements).

2. Scope

This policy applies to the Mayor and Councillors; the Communications and Marketing Services Unit; Mayor and Councillor Support; and any other officers involved in the management of the City’s official media engagement.

The policy includes an arbitration and dispute-resolution role for Council’s General Manager Strategy & Performance, with the Chief Executive Officer having ultimate decision-making jurisdiction.

Council officers seeking clarity re this policy should first consult their manager, who can in turn consult the Manager Communications and Marketing Services.

This policy should be read in conjunction with other relevant Council policies and procedures (listed next).

3. References

The City’s Mayor, Councillors, CEO and officers are expected to demonstrate standards of professional conduct and behaviour that are consistent with relevant legislation, regulations and policies.

The following City policies and guidelines must be adhered to regarding the management of media engagement:

  • Code of Conduct – Councillors

  • Councillors Expenses and Facilities Policy

  • Community Engagement Policy

  • Media Liaison Procedure

  • Media Issues Management Procedure

  • Disciplinary Policy

  • Plaques and Memorials Procedure

4. Definitions

Major issues* will generally meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • announcements or commentary relating to premier events, major projects or key community infrastructure being undertaken by the City;

  • key announcements regarding City Plan, City Plan update, annual budget, and key strategic plans setting the long-term vision for the City;

  • matters, including those considered by the City (or one of its Committees) that are likely to involve dialogue at a state, national or international level;

  • an event or activity involving the Prime Minister or Premier

  • controversial matters that are likely to impact on the City’s reputation;

  • matters involving a natural or human induced emergency or crisis; and

  • where the community would reasonably expect to hear from the primary spokesperson or leader of an organisation on an issue.

Media engagement: how the City, Mayor and Councillors connect with media – local and beyond – to disseminate views, ideas and information regarding their responsibility to develop, implement and deliver strategy, policies, programs and services.

Stakeholder: someone who may be affected by, have a specific interest in, or influence over, a decision or issue under consideration.

Media response: information the City provides reactively to media, in response to a specific media request or inquiry.

Media release: information the City provides proactively to media, including the City’s own media channels (i.e. website, social media channels, etc).

Issue: activities, policies or decisions generated by the City that could create public controversy, debate or dissent – generally via the media.

Media: refers to any print, electronic or online media outlet/organisation.

City Plan: the key document that sets out the City’s vision and identifies the strategic directions, priorities, and strategies that will guide the City’s activities during the term of Council.

5. Management Policy

The Mayor as spokesperson

The Mayor is the primary spokesperson for the City and will speak on major issues involving the City of Greater Geelong.

The Mayor will be the primary spokesperson quoted in reactive media responses or proactive media releases, again relating to major issues.

The Communications (and Marketing Services) Unit – and, if necessary, the General Manager Strategy and Performance – will use professional judgement to determine what constitutes a major issue. The CEO will be the final arbiter.

Councillors as spokespeople

Where a Portfolio and/or Ward Councillor have played a key role in developing a City position or initiative – including major issues – and there is an opportunity to engage with media, then the Communications Unit, Mayor and Councillor Support, and/or relevant City area/department will advise the Councillor(s) of this opportunity.

This engagement could include:

  • a public/media/event spokesperson role

  • participation in a media/photo opportunity or event

  • being quoted in a media statement / media release.

Any Councillor representing the City in an event will receive support from the Communications Unit to prepare speaking notes, media statements, etc.

Assigning order of representation

If a Portfolio and/or Ward Councillor joins the Mayor (or Deputy Mayor) in a Council organised representational role, the Mayor (or Deputy Mayor) will generally:

  • speak first at an event, and

  • be first quoted in any media release or media statement.

Relevant Portfolio and/or Ward Councillors will be welcome to attend any Council organised photo or other media opportunities (with the media determining their ultimate inclusion).

Councillors are welcome to attend and be included in any Council organised photo/media opportunities for the City’s social media channels.

The Communications Unit will ensure relevant Councillors are kept informed when advancing media opportunities – and assign these according to the following table:

Type of media request
Spokesperson – priority order
Deputy Mayor
Portfolio Councillor
Ward Councillor
CEO, GM or authorised Officer
Media has asked the City for an interview or comment on an issue that meets the criteria for major issue.
Media has asked the City for an interview or comment on an issue other than a major issue – that clearly relates to a Portfolio issue.
Media has asked the City for an interview or comment on an issue other than a major issue – that clearly relates to a Ward issue.
Media has asked the City for information or comment on an administrative, operational or regulatory nature.

As a general rule, when assigning a media opportunity, the key messages or subject matter associated with that opportunity will dictate which Portfolio or Ward it sits within.

Where there is potential portfolio overlap, a representation or media opportunity will be referred to the relevant Portfolio and/or Ward Councillors for a decision.

If no agreement can be reached, the General Manager Strategy and Performance will use professional judgement to determine the allocation.

Statement guidelines

Official City statements made by Mayor and/or Councillors – including those prepared and/or issued by the Communications Unit – must:

  1. reflect the City’s current policy and position (if the City has a policy or position)

  2. portray the City (and its Council) in a positive way

  3. not cast aspersions on any individual – including the Mayor, Councillors, CEO or officers

  4. not commit the City or its resources to a course of action, without prior Council discussion and/or resolution, and

  5. avoid any admission of legal liability.

All Councillors quoted in a media statement or media release will have the opportunity to approve their comments (within a reasonable timeframe), prior to issue.

If a Councillor chooses to express a personal opinion or view that differs from the City’s adopted position, the Councillor is obliged to identify the opinion or view as their own.

6. Quality Records

Relevant officers will retain relevant Quality Records for at least the period shown below.

Record Retention/Disposal Responsibility Retention Period Location
Media inquiries
Media statements
Media responses
Official invitations
Official speeches and other event-related information
Corporate Records Permanent - as required by law Communications and Marketing Services Unit and/or Mayor and Councillor Support

7. Attachments


Page last updated: Tuesday, 29 March 2016